Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set for a tough fight with Greens leader Adam Bandt who is standing firm on legislating emissions reduction targets so that successive governments can never repeal them.
The Labor government is set to introduce a new bill to enshrine climate change and net-zero policy into law but needs the left-wing Greens to pass legislation in the federal Upper House.
Currently, the Greens hold 12 seats in the Senate, Labor has 26 seats, and the Liberal-National Coalition has 32 seats.
Liberal-National MPs have ruled out legislating hard net-zero targets, with opposition employment spokesperson Michaelia Cash saying the party would not “devastate the Australian economy.”
“We are committed to net zero by 2050 utilising technology, not taxes …the Coalition’s position is very, very clear,” she told reporters in Canberra on July 25.
The lack of support from the Coalition means the Albanese government will need to negotiate with the Greens to pass any laws.
However, Greens leader Adam Bandt has outlined his own set of demands, including putting in place mechanisms to ensure a later government cannot repeal any net-zero target.
“You shouldn’t be able to go below this weak target of the government’s, but it also can’t be a ceiling,” he told reporters in Canberra on July 25. “It can’t put in place obstacles for governments in the future that might be more climate-ambitious to lift the target.
“We don’t want [One Nation’s] Pauline Hanson and [United Australian Party founder] Clive Palmer to be able to put a handbrake on future governments listening to the science and lifting the target.”
Labor, Greens Differ on Net-Zero Goals
While the Labor government has an emissions reduction target of 43 percent by 2030 (net-zero by 2050), up from the previous target of 26-28 percent set by the Morrison government, the Greens have campaigned for a 74 percent emissions reduction target by 2030 to reach net-zero by 2035.
Greens leader Bandt has said whatever target agreed to for 2030 should be viewed as the floor and not the ceiling of emissions reduction policy. Further, the Greens are also calling for a ban on all new coal and gas projects in Australia, a move that Prime Minister Albanese has rebuked, saying such projects should be allowed to proceed if they pass environmental approvals.
“Policies that would just result in a replacement of Australian resources with resources that are less clean from other countries would lead to an increase in global emissions, not a decrease,” he told The Australian newspaper.
“The Greens’ position is aimed at politics rather than what’s necessary, which is a recognition that Australia needs to do its part, but doing its part is ensuring that the global emissions decrease.”
The move to enshrine net-zero comes as the Labor government scrambles to deal with skyrocketing electricity and gas prices amid ongoing reluctance from policymakers and business leaders to support coal and gas development due to the climate change movement.